Cross-cultural comparison of the neurobehavioral characteristics of Chinese and Japanese neonates

Pediatr Int. 2005 Aug;47(4):446-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200x.2005.02084.x.


Background: Similarities and differences in the neurobehavioral repertoire of neonates from different cultures have been noted using the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS). By identifying the behavioral attributes of newborns that are seen more universally versus those that are culture-specific, comparative studies increase understanding of the roles of cultural factors in shaping the behavioral trajectory of infants. This study compared the neurobehavioral characteristics of neonates in Chengdu, China and Nagasaki, Japan.

Methods: The Brazelton NBAS was administered within the first week of life to 40 Chinese and 62 Japanese healthy, full-term neonates in Chengdu and Nagasaki.

Results: The two groups differed significantly in birthweight, gender, age at time of exam, mode of delivery, and gestational age. When these variables, in addition to group status (Chinese or Japanese), were entered into multiple linear analyses with NBAS cluster scores as dependent variables, group status independently predicted Range of State and Habituation scores. The group status did not predict Orientation, Motor, Regulation of States, Autonomic Stability, and Abnormal Reflexes cluster scores.

Conclusion: These results suggest that Japanese newborns habituated more readily to stimuli, and were less irritable than newborns in the Chinese sample. The infants in the two groups shared many similar neurobehavioral characteristics as well. The implications of these similarities and differences were discussed.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior*
  • Infant, Newborn* / physiology
  • Japan
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Orientation